Columbus Journalists in Training recap: Training the next generation of storytellers

High school student O’Laun Bonds takes notes during a crime-scene simulation as journalism professionals and students from various Columbus City Schools participate in the Columbus Journalists in Training seminar on Sat. Jan. 28, 2023 at Fort Hayes Career Center. Photo by Doral Chenoweth / The Columbus Dispatch

The Central Ohio Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists recently wrapped up our inaugural session of Columbus Journalists in Training, a high school journalism program for Columbus City Schools students put on in partnership with The Columbus Dispatch and other local media organizations and professionals.

We at SPJ are immensely proud of the more than 30 students who participated in our interactive program. Many completed final journalism projects that showcased their talent, from reporting on issues like how the Russian invasion into Ukraine has impacted Columbus exchange students, the local music and entertainment scene, Black-owned businesses, disparities in funding sports at a local high school, and much more. The Columbus Dispatch published the student projects on May 6.

The Dispatch recently recapped the program on its website, writing:

“The future of American journalism depends on truthtellers willing to do democracy’s work on behalf of Americans,” according to The Dispatch. “It also depends on people willing to give of themselves to support the generation that will follow. It was in that spirit that Columbus Journalists in Training was launched in January. Encouraging the next generation of journalists, voters and truth seekers was the focus of the hands-on camp for Columbus City Schools students sponsored by the Columbus Dispatch, Society of Professional Journalists Central Ohio Pro Chapter and the school district.”

SPJ Central Ohio would like to thank CCS and The Columbus Dispatch, along with NBC4, WOSU Public Media, iHeart Media, Ohio State University, Lee Enterprises, Spectrum News 1, Denison University, The Ohio Newsroom, Ohio University, USA TODAY Network, any many others, for helping make this program possible.

We would also like to thank the national Society of Professional Journalists for awarding our chapter a $500 grant to support expenses from the program. We chose to spend this money on awards for the students who went above and beyond on their journalism projects.

Five students won awards including gift cards that we doled out at the graduation ceremony on Sat., May 6:

First Place ($200): Eliana Brownell, Whetstone High School,  “Ukrainian exchange student reflects on the war and what’s to come.”

Second Place ($150): O’Laun Bonds, Mifflin High School, “Traci Lukemire finding success by the dozen.”

Third Place ($100): Brielle Coleman, Eastmoor Academy, “Underfunding of tennis program at Eastmoor Academy raises concerns.”

Honorable mentions ($25 each):
-Nadirah Scriven, Eastmoor academy, “Franklin County Sheriff’s Office DEI director talks youth gun violence.”
-Clementine Easton, Whetstone High School, “The Dad Band: How a group of Clintonville dads is impacting their community through music.”

We are already thinking of ways to make this program bigger and better next year. Please reach out to us at [email protected] with your ideas and input!

At SPJ, our goal is to do what we can to support the future of our vitally important profession.

This program was an opportunity for students in Columbus to express themselves, learn about their First Amendment rights, and be exposed to a rewarding potential career opportunity.

You can read and view more about our program here: This link features a description of the project, photos, video, and most importantly, the fantastic student projects.